It’s 9 o’clock on a Monday night. Keira has just returned home from back-to-back after-school activities and is settling down to begin her homework. Homework includes two algebra worksheets, a book report, and a science project outline. All are due the next day. Keira has put off reading the last two chapters of her book, has not given much thought to her science project, and doesn’t understand anything about quadratic equations. An exhausted Keira approaches her mother to help her get through all this. Unfortunately, Keira’s mother has her own deadlines to meet. She asks her to wait, leading to Keira having a meltdown.
Sound familiar? Many parents and children face similar situations. Some children are more independent and are able to complete their assignments without many tears, while others need cajoling and hand holding. As a parent, you want to hit the sweet spot between doing homework for her and leaving her to fend for herself by supporting her just enough to build her confidence to work independently. A few simple tips can make homework less stressful and more manageable and productive for you and your child.
What’s the Problem?
If your child consistently procrastinates, identify the problem. When both of you are relaxed, talk to your child and understand why she puts off doing her homework. She may be struggling with time-management skills or is finding it difficult to understand the content taught in class. If it’s a time-management issue, check out tools such as myHomework Student Planner or Assignments, which are electronic versions of the good-old physical student planner.
If you have younger children who are just starting to become independent, opt for a shared Google calendar, where you add all their homework, assignments, and family activities. Setting reminders is another way for them to stay on track.
But, I Don’t Get It
What if it’s not a time-management issue, but an issue with understanding the content? In the case of Keira, quadratic equations are her nemesis. In such situations, students and parents can access a number of online resources — such as Learning Bird — that offer an extensive list of lessons on a variety of topics organized by subject and curriculum.
Some websites even focus exclusively on one subject area, such as math or science. For example, Mathispower4u is a site that hosts math video lessons organized by course and topic. Another site, Purplemath, offers math lessons (fifth grade through college), learning forums, and site reviews. You can select the lessons, watch them together, and teach her along the way, or let her drive at her own pace. However, if your child resists working independently, be available to help; but only jump in after she’s had a chance to solve the problem on her own.
Often overlooked but excellent resources are your local library, school district, and teacher recommendations. Your library may subscribe to free tutoring services, like the one offered by brainfuse. Through this service, you have access to free live tutoring, homework help, and a writing lab for students in elementary grades through college. Some libraries also have partnerships with college students who tutor students in the library at specific times. Find out more about these services at your local library.
School districts and teachers are equally valuable resources. You can find their recommendations for homework help and online resources on their websites. These are great options, especially if you’re not sure how to support your child.
Putting It All Together
Lastly, ensure that you’re providing an environment that is conducive to working productively. Make sure your child is well fed and rested, especially when trying to complete large volumes of homework. Decide whether your child will work from their own bedroom or if you would prefer to supervise and have homework time in a communal space such as the kitchen.
Check out this post on Homework Hacks for Parents for more tips on making homework time a happy time.
With these few simple tricks under your belt, you’re on your way to training the homework dragon and making it more productive and meaningful. Suddenly, happy homework doesn’t feel like an oxymoron!
What homework tricks have worked best for you?
Special thanks for contributions provided by Thara Visvanathan of A Pass Educational Group.